Yussef Dayes Trio
Welcome To The Hills
Take a look at that cover – the drum-kit on fire! – it’s either evocation of playing with such heat as to near fear for your life or a symbol of burning it all to the ground, either way it’s about leaving it all on the stage. And that’s precisely the feel from the get go and all the way across Welcome To The Hills – a live-album swansong for the Yussef Dayes Trio released in the final weeks of 2020 capturing a gig from the year before. The trio – featuring Dayes on drums and Rocco Palladino (yes, son of Pino) on bass with Chris Stacey on keys – is utterly on fire the entire time in this Copenhagen gig that farewells the British-jazz ensemble.
I say British-jazz because that’s really been a thing – and several times. There was the post-war big band variant that was distinctly British but in the last decade or so there’s been a broken-beat version of jazz that owes as much to dance music and bedsit producers and though there’s the Thundercats and Chris Daves and Robert Glaspers of the world, and so many more, there is something that has been happening in the UK scene with the development of this distinct strain.
There’s a relentlessness to this, no posturing, barely any stops, it is fluid and hypnotic and it’s always more cool than calm; a frenetic energy always pulsing.
Palladino’s warm-liquid basslines help to propel the groove here, Stacey adds shimmer and sparkle and the vaguest hints of melody (his playing is rhythmic for the most part) and of course Dayes is an absolute groove-monster.
I first heard him with the formation of the duo with Kamaal Williams – as Yussef Kamaal their Black Focus album from about five years ago was crucial to this new wave of a distinctly British-jazz. Here on Hills the trio interplay is astounding, there are moments when each member gets to showcase their own chops (of course, it’s a jazz gig after all) but really the feel here is of telepathy; each player knowing they all can rub their heads and pat their tummies at the same time, more than that they can do it all together without ever muddying the waters, only ever dizzying the minds of those that listen.
R.I.P. to this trio. You have to hear this killer-good live record.
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